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Sexual activity grounds for denying employment claims bishop

Tony Grew April 4, 2007
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A bishop of the Church of England has explained to an employment tribunal that he decided not to hire an openly gay man as he felt he would not be able to remain celibate.

John Reaney brought the Hereford Diocesan Board of Finance to the tribunal, claiming that he was discriminated against on the grounds of his sexuality.

Mr Reaney was previously employed as a youth officer for the Norwich and Chester Church of England diocese.

In an application form for a similar job in Hereford, Mr Reaney stated that he is gay.

Following a successful interview, he was told that subject the consent of the bishop, he would be appointed.

However, after meeting Bishop Priddis, he was told that he was not selected for the position. He claims he was asked humiliating questions about his personal life.

“Mr Reaney’s lifestyle had the potential to impact on the spiritual, moral and ethical leadership within the diocese,” the bishop told the tribunal this afternoon, according to the Daily Mail.

“The Church’s teachings draws distinction between sexual orientation and practice and lifestyle.

“We didn’t discriminate against Mr Reaney on the grounds of sexuality. Had we done so we wouldn’t have called him for an interview.”

The bishop admitted that he had asked Mr Reaney a series of questions about his sex life.

When he found out the gay youth worker had recently come out of a five-year relationship, the bishop said he did not feel that:

“It would not have been right for me to take an undertaking of his head that his heart could not keep,” namely that he would remain celibate, in line with church teachings.

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